DC Defenders

DC Defenders vs. New York Guardians: What to watch for in XFL Week 2

DC Defenders vs. New York Guardians: What to watch for in XFL Week 2

During the opening weekend of the revamped XFL, both the DC Defenders and New York Guardians came out victorious in convincing fashion.

Both squads will put their undefeated records to the test on Saturday when the Guardians travel to the nation's capital for a 2 p.m. kickoff against the Defenders at Audi Field.

Here are three things to watch for...

1. Will the Guardians' defense be able to slow down Cardale Jones and the DC offense?

The New York defense put on a show in Week 1, holding the Tampa Bay Vipers to just three points.

The Guardians sacked Tampa quarterback Aaron Murray five times and intercepted him on three different occasions, as the former Georgia Bulldog struggled significantly in his XFL debut.

Defenders' signal-caller Cardale Jones is a significant upgrade over Murray and will give New York is a tough test in Week 2. Jones finished 16-26 for 235 yards and two touchdowns in DC's victory over Seattle. Jones'  116.7 passer rating was the highest of any XFL quarterback during the opening weekend.

The Guardians tweeted out a friendly warning to the Defenders ahead of Saturday's matchup. We will see how it all plays out.

2. Will either team be able to get its rushing attack working?

During the XFL's opening weekend, no team had a rusher reach 100 yards on the ground. In fact, St. Louis' Matt Jones currently leads the league in rushing yards with just 85. 

Both DC and New York struggled on the ground in Week 1. The Guardians' leading rusher was Darius Victor, who amassed just 32 yards on nine carries. Defenders' back Jhurrell Pressley was no better, as he recorded just 31 yards on 12 carries.

The Defenders backfield duo of Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey was supposed to be the strength of their offense, yet neither did much of anything in Week 1. Head coach Pep Hamilton will need to establish a working ground attack against New York in order for the team to stay undefeated.

3. What will the crowd atmosphere be like?

Defenders fans showed up in Week 1, as over 17,000 filled Audi Field to see the inaugural game of the relaunched XFL.

But a week later, with the league not as much of an unknown anymore, it'll be interesting to see the turnout. The fans definitely played a factor for DC in Week 1, and Jones and co. would greatly appreciate another stellar showing this Saturday.

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Tight end Khari Lee becomes first DC Defenders player to sign with an NFL team

Tight end Khari Lee becomes first DC Defenders player to sign with an NFL team

Former DC Defenders tight end Khari Lee has a new home.

The 28-year-old has agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, the club announced on Wednesday.

As a member of the Defenders, Lee started all five games. He totaled just eight receptions for 91 yards on the season, with two of his catches resulting in touchdowns.

The tight end was on the receiving end of the Defenders' first offensive touchdown in franchise history, a 39-yard pass flea-flicker from Cardale Jones. The Defenders would go on to win their inaugural contest against the Seattle Dragons, 31-19.

This is not Lee's first NFL stint; he's spent time with Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills. He's played in 34 career games and has two receptions for 12 yards on his career.

Lee is the first member of the Defenders to sign an NFL contract.

The XFL was forced to cancel the remainder of their season due to the coronavirus pandemic, ending the relaunched league just five weeks in. However, several former XFL players have since signed contracts with NFL teams, and that number keeps growing.

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Here are the XFL players that have signed with NFL teams

Here are the XFL players that have signed with NFL teams

Like almost every major professional sports league across the world, the XFL had to come to a halt earlier this month due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Although the inaugural season of the relaunched XFL lasted just five weeks, the league had its fair share of stars. Once the league officially canceled the remainder of the season last week, the XFL allowed their players to sign NFL contracts starting Monday, March 23.

Here are all the XFL players that have since joined an NFL club.

P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks

To no surprise, Walker was the first XFL player to sign an NFL contract, inking a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers on Monday. By joining the Panthers, Walker reunited with his former head coach from the University of Temple, Matt Rhule.

Walker was the biggest star in the XFL's first season. The 5-foot-11 signal-caller led the league in passing yards (1,338) and touchdown passes (15) while leading the Roughnecks to an undefeated 5-0 record. With Cam Newton and Kyle Allen no longer in Carolina, Walker will likely battle with Will Grier for the backup job behind newly-signed QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Jordan Ta'amu, QB, St. Louis Battlehawks

Walker grabbed all the headlines, but Ta'amu was a star in his own right. The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have inked Ta'amu to a one-year deal, where he'll compete with longtime NFL veteran Chad Henne for the backup role behind Patrick Mahomes.

Ta'amu led the Battlehawks to a 3-2 record and was the XFL's leader in passer rating (82.8) and completion percentage (72.4%) and third with 1,050 yards passing. Ta'amu was undrafted in 2019 out of Ole Miss and spent time with the Houston Texans during training camp before playing in the XFL.

Deatrick Nichols, DB, Houston Roughnecks

Nichols, the XFL's interception leader, has agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced on Tuesday. The 25-year-old has NFL experience before, as he played six games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 after being undrafted from the University of South Florida. 

Dravon Askew-Henry, DB, New York Guardians

The cousin of longtime New York Jets standout has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants, according to NFL Networks Ian Rapoport. Prior to the XFL, Askew-Henry was a standout for the University of West Virginia.

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